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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5762
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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One week ago I finally won custody of my two teenage sons after

Resolved Question:

One week ago I finally won custody of my two teenage sons after a year long ordeal with their father who has been diagnosed with antisocial and narcissistic personality disorders. We need counseling to deal with what we have all been through, but what I have found is that normal therapists are lost. My sons have been in counseling for years already and because their father presents himself so convincingly my sons continue getting feedback that really doesn't apply. Over time I have noticed that the boys have stopped even sharing the information they did a year or more ago. They have obviously given up or think no one will ever understand or care. Can you tell me why personality disorders seem to be uncharted territory for mainstream child psychologists, and how I can find someone to help my sons who will know what it means to have a psychopath for a dad. We live near Seattle, WA.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


Many clinicians are not trained well in personality disorders. And an anti social personality is very charming and manipulative and therefore hard to recognize and deal with. It is easy to believe what they say and even with training a therapist can be convinced to believe what they say. The therapist needs experience in order to deal with them.


To find a good therapist, make sure you interview them before you make an appointment. Ask about experience and you may want to consider someone who has been in practice for a while and also ask them if they have direct experience dealing with anti social personalities. Also, you may want to consider avoiding clinicians that are trained in CBT (Cognative Behavioral Therapy) only. CBT therapists are trained to recognize thought patterns and behaviors but they are not trained to look into motivations and underlying reasons for behavior. Therefore, someone with anti social behavior may look normal to them. You also may want to be sure you have someone who has certain training. Here is a list of Master Level and Ph.D therapists degrees and what they mean:


M.Ed- A Masters in Counselor education

M.S.W.- a Master's in Social Work

L.S.W.- the same as above, but Licensed

M.A.- a Master's in theories of psychology

MFT- Master's in Family and Marital therapy

Ph.D- a doctorate in Psychology

Psy.D- a doctorate in applied clinical psychology


You want a therapist who is trained in counseling. Social Workers are trained in family systems, M.A.'s in theory and MFT's in marital and family, which may work for you if they have experience with mental illness in families.


Here are some resources to help you find a therapist in your area: for MFT's


You may also want to contact local universities and hospitals to see if they can provide referrals to therapists in the area who have experience with personality disorders and families.


I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any further questions.



Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I still don't understand how the license or credentials tells me who I am looking for. It is the strangest thing to watch happening because if he was an getting drunk in front of the kids, abusive to them, or a dead beat who doesn't pay child support psychologists and judges would know that is bad and that isn't love, and yet this man does all of those things and more and by the time he is done talking to the therapist or judge it is like they forget the basic facts of the case. He doesn't look like someone who would do that, and he doesn't see himself as he really is, and soon they don't either. What I realized this go around is that it largely has to do with laziness. The truth required action, commitment to a position, going against the established norm. My kids' dad speaks to norms we all universally accept, and beliefs we hold dear (kids need both parents, parents love their kids, sociopaths are in jail, antisocial means unpopular or having no friends, ) and our case is one where the worst thing you could do is judge a book by the cover. The risk is that these therapists can cause more problems than they fix if they try to talk to my kids as thought they have a normal dad.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

In trying to find a suitable therapist, a certain degree does help. A counselor who has been trained in counseling (and not all counselors are) is your best bet. That includes an M.Ed or MFT and a Ph.D or Psy.D. Social workers and M.A. therapists are taught social systems and theory. A therapist with these degrees can help, but you may need someone trained in specific disorders like anti social.


Keep in mind that therapists are like doctors. Therapists can get a Master's or Ph.D but they can specialize and they all vary in what they are good in. Their personalities, intelligence, experience and how you click with them personally all factor in to which therapist works for you and your children. It is a very subjective choice as to who you see and feel comfortable with. So I could recommend a therapist, but if you do not feel they understand your problem or their personality conflicts with yours, then you may not be able to work with them. That is why I offered you several search options so you could have resources to help you narrow down your choices.


Finding a therapist can be just like finding a doctor. You try a few till you can find one that you like. But in your search, it is also important to find someone who has the background you need to deal with the personality issues of your ex husband and the effects on your children and you.


From your description, it sounds like your ex husband is very good at manipulation and has anti social behavior down to a T. Is there a way to prove his behavior such as recording him or having a witness with you when you experience his behavior? It's not that you are misleading anyone, but having something tangible that others can hear and listen to again adds another dimension to remembering that your ex is ill.



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